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Is it important to diagnose MS Early?

I was wondering whether it is important to diagnose MS early. The reason I ask is that I have quite a few symptoms which are very similar to MS. I have visited the GP on a number of occasions and they seem no closer to diagnosing what is wrong. When it comes to GPs I am quite restrained as I don’t want to appear as a hypochondriac. I haven’t said I think my symptoms might be MS related. I know from looking at the web site that the journey for diagnosis can take a long time as the symptoms are very similar to lots of other illnesses.

I am wondering whether my reticence in being pushy and thus delaying a potential diagnosis could be detrimental to the course of MS in the event that MS is diagnosed. (I am a 54 year old male).

My symptoms are as follows:

  • Pain, loss of strength and difficulty in controlling hands. My hands are in pain all of the time and I’ve found that I now need to concentrate quite hard on making my hands work properly when doing things such as DIY, turning pages in books, picking up small items. My wife and I used to hold hands when we fell asleep, but now it is too painful. The pain especially noticeable at night. It started becoming a problem around Christmas. I went to the GP in March and was told that I was getting old and should put up with it. I went to the GP about a month ago and said that I was not happy with being told that I was getting old. She arranged a blood test for arthritis and a Carpal Tunnel test. Both came back negative.

  • Pain in my feet. This has been going on for a few years. Until recently it used to be every so often at night. The pain was such that it prevented me from sleeping. More recently it has got worse in that it is present all the time. My feet also used to feel that they had been washed in tea tree oil with a slight tingling. The tingling is now much stronger.

  • My shins and my forearms have started to be painful all the time. They have a tingling feeling and feel very heavy. I used to run up stairs, or take stairs two at a time. I now find that I have to take them one at a time. It sometimes spreads to my upper arms and thighs. My neck/shoulders are stiff.

  • At night the pain and tingling in hands, feet, arms and legs become much more noticeable and I can’t get comfortable. I am sleeping really badly. Co-codamol, Ibropufen and Naproxin have no impact on the pain.

  • I have had an aching lower back a number of years. I don’t know whether this is related to any of the above, however physiotherapy doesn’t relieve the pain. The GP suggested I could go to the back clinic but that it only helps 1% of people. She suggested I started Pilates, rather than attend the back clinic. I can feel the benefit of Pilates in terms of improved posture and better stomach muscles. It hasn’t improved the lower back pain.

  • About 18 months ago I started having abdominal pain as well as a pain in my lower front left hand side rib. This was thoroughly investigated and ascribed to IBS. The IBS is most likely due to muscular skeletal issues as the physiotherapist was able to reproduce the symptoms by pushing on a specific part of my back. Physiotherapy however didn’t solve the pain. I get less abdominal pain than I originally got, it comes and goes.

  • I used to get when falling asleep a feeling like a large electric shock which would make my legs jerk involuntarily. This is happening less frequently now.

  • I do find that sometimes I can’t find the words or names of things/people and the wrong words come out. I suppose that this might be just because I am tired because I am sleeping so badly. I get up quite a few times in the night to go to the toilet, but I don’t know whether this is because I really need to go, or it gives me something to do rather than lying there in severe discomfort.

I went to the GP today to get the results of the Carpal Tunnel Test (which the hospital had already told me were negative). I am afraid I was quite emotional (another potential symptom of MS) when I explained my symptoms and the effect they were having on me.

He said that perhaps I was depressed and that he couldn’t find a medical explanation for my symptoms. He said they weren’t neurological as the Carpal Tunnel Tests had rules that out. I said that Carpal Tunnel Tests don’t check for any problems in the spine or in the brain.

He has prescribed me with some Amiltryptiline (25mg tablets, up to two at night) which he said should deal with depression if I have it, will sedate me and help me sleep, and reduce the neurophysical symptoms. I am to book in to see my normal GP in 4 weeks time (who I don’t really know as I don’t go to the GP very often and I just see whoever is on duty).

Looking at the MS web sites it looks as if I do have MS Amiltryptiline will help with the symptoms which is great, and if I don’t have MS hopefully they will also help.

My concern is that the GP doesn’t really seem interesting in identifying what the cause of the problem is. I don’t want to find that the symptoms are resolved by medication but the underlying issue remains which if left untreated will further deteriorate with long terms consequences.

Am I being a hypochondriac, or is right to feel this way? How should I be approaching my GPs to get the best for me?

Apologies for this rather long posting. It is the first post of this type I have ever made. Thank you for reading this.

Insist on seeing a Neurologist as a GP is a waste of your valuable time. Why your GP has`nt referred you to a Neurologist already is questionable.

Ask about a MRI scan and Lumbar Puncture.

I`m still in Limbo land after seeing a Neurologist so the sooner you see one the better.

hi denis

you have been seeing your gp for almost 12 months so it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a diagnosis of something.

push for this, it’s your health at stake.

it’s best not to say that you suspect ms because doctors like to be the ones to diagnose.

just say that it is affecting the quality of your life and you want to see a neuro since nothing else has worked so far.

if it IS ms, a diagnosis will enable you to begin a disease modifying treatment which will help to reduce disability.

the alternative is to see a private neuro which will cost about £200 for a consultation.

you will then be able to pass onto his/her NHS list.

good luck

carole x

Hi Carole and Scudger

Thank you for the feedback/suggestions. I feel better prepared for when I see the GP next.

Regards, Denis

Maybe you should think about changing your GP. A lot of us on here have trouble with either GPs or neurologists, including myself :frowning: